First day of school pictures aren’t a thing around here, usually because we’re in our PJs, and this year was no exception. And also, I completely didn’t think of it. Monday, our first official day of the 2019/2020 homeschool year, Madeline was up before the sun to log in to her online class, so we were in our PJs and the house was dimly lit because it was pitch black out, and the rest of the family was still sleeping. It probably would have made for a really cool picture, but that opportunity is gone, so I’ve accepted that second-day-of-school pictures will have to do. 

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In addition to the actual snapshot of Madeline doing schoolish things on her second day of school, I’ll give you some of my scattered thoughts about the first few days of our school year.  

Thoughts about Mandarin Chinese- Mandarin Chinese doesn’t have an alphabet. I knew that, I guess, but maybe I didn’t. I think before this week, I thought Chinese “letters” were just different. But they’re not letters at all! Huh. No alphabet. Words aren’t strings of sound put together on paper. Words are pictures. This seems so unfettered and artistic. I wonder how that affects the way a person thinks. Starting with a picture and embellishing it in order to communicate instead of stringing a bunch of letters together. It’s stretching my brain. It’s so radical! FYI, the basic Chinese characters are called radicals. Boom. 

Thoughts about AP Physics- Out of about twenty students, Madeline was the only girl in her online AP Physics class. I guess I knew STEM fields were male dominated, but twenty to one is crazy. I’m glad my girl is the one. For her, the sky’s the limit. But where are all the other girls? They say we’ve come a long way, baby. But I think we might be going the long way on the wrong roads. 

Thoughts about Arabic 3- Madeline’s Arabic 3 class should be taken in her room with her door closed. Otherwise, when her mic is on, which it is A LOT because they’re speaking Arabic to each other all the time, the class is graced by my constant chatter to the dog … so embarrassing. “Come here Phoebalicious; are you thirsty? You look so thirsty! I wuv you sweet pup! Come get some water.” I look up to see Madeline waving her hands and staring daggers at me and then answering her teacher in Arabic. Oops.

Thoughts about online class introductions- First day introductions are interesting. I gave my kids solid, easy to pronounce names, or so I thought. Online Teacher: “Please introduce yourself, and tell me how you would like me to pronounce your name.” Madeline: “Hi, my name is Madeline, pronounced Mad-e-LINE, not Mad-e-LYNN.” Online Teacher: “Wonderful, thank you Madelynn.” Sigh. And I realized that I have preconceived notions about people, but I don’t really admit it to myself, so I’m surprised when a student named Chen Li introduces himself and he has a deep gritty southern accent and sounds more like a country music singer than a chess champion. Preconceived notions are weird. Names are weird, too. I wonder, what is someone’s preconceived notion of a “Kian”? 

Thoughts about our second-to-last first (actually second) day- After this year, I only have one more first day of homeschooling. Madeline is a junior, and not surprisingly, next year she’ll be a senior. And then, just like that, I’ll be out of offspring to homeschool. I’m trying to savor the days. I know that I’ll blink twice and these days will be a memory, but right now, umm, right now I’m just trying to stay awake. These first few days are kicking my butt, and I’m tired. (I had totally set out to say that I’m super grateful to still be homeschooling and all that, but really what came out was that I’m tired. So there! I’m not changing it. Because I’M TIRED!) But in addition to being tired, I am grateful, too. So grateful! I’m able to give that girl in the picture an excellent education. She is unfettered by peer pressure and societal expectations. She can take Arabic AND Chinese and next year add Russian if that’s what she wants. She can take as many science classes as she wants. She can be a complete nerd AND she can be an exceptional athlete. She can be a rocket scientist or a translator or a stay-at-home mom. She can be a multilingual-rocket-scientist-mom if she really wants. Or she can be something else altogether. She can be a country music singing chess champion. She is smart and strong and she knows nothing of ceilings, glass or otherwise. She is free! 

So, here’s to another year of learning!

In whatever manner your family learns, I pray you will all have energy and drive. I pray you will seek out and seize the opportunity to learn new things. I pray you will savor and enjoy the pursuit of knowledge both for you and for your kids. And I pray you will get a nap every now and then.

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